A new year has arrived, and most serious writers are hunkered down creating writing goals for 2020. However, a new decade has begun as well. That means it’s time to take a big-picture view and plan more than just the next 12 months of your nonfiction writing career. It’s time to strategize for the next 10 years.
I’ve written many posts on planning and succeeding in your New Writing Year. I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty deals of a plan right now. I want to challenge you to create an overall focus for the decade.
After all, we have entered 2020. I want your vision to be just that—20–20. I want you to see your future clearly and have clarity about your overarching writing goal for this period. That will help you achieve it.
A decade-worthy goal might seem big and overwhelming…and it can be. But if you get clarity on what you’d like to achieve by the end of this new decade—one specific area of focus, you’ll find it easier to plan how to accomplish that goal. Indeed, all your goals will all fall into place under the umbrella of your new decade focus.
Your New Decade Focus
You may have heard me—or someone else—suggest having a word for the year. This word describes the essence of who how you want to show up, what you want to experience, or what you want to achieve during that year.
Put that concept on steroids. Choose a focus word for the decade. You can then choose a world for 2020, and each of the next 10 years, that describes qualities that help you achieve the longer-term quality or objective.
So, if you choose “fulfilled” as your word for the new decade, your word for 2020 might be “productive.” In 2021, your word might be “publisher.” And in 2022, it might be “bestseller.”
My Initial Writing Focus
As an example, let me tell you about my focus for the new decade. My word for the decade is “spiritual.” For 2020, my word is “aligned.”
When I began my career as a magazine journalist, I knew I wanted to write articles that helped people. However, it didn’t take long for me to be swept up by the focus of whatever publication I worked on.
I edited and wrote for regional publications, where I covered local events and interviewed celebrity residents. Then I edited and wrote for a large insurance company, where I produced work about the company, its employees, and insurance-related topics. After that, I worked for an employee communications consultant, where my work focused on employee communications and relations and corporate community outreach.
I did not write about topics that were important to me—like personal development, spirituality, and metaphysics.
Then I decided to write a book of my own. Initially, I planned to write books on Jewish topics. Later, I decided to take these topics and make them secular. As time passed, I decided to turn some of these spiritual (not religious) topics into books about personal development.
And that’s how my journey to authorship began. The first books my agents pitched to publishers were all on spiritual topics.
A Change in Focus
And then an agent asked me to write about something else—something I had more credentials to write about. And before I knew it, I was a blogging and publishing expert. I had three traditionally published writing guides to my name—How to Blog a Book, The Author Training Manual, and Creative Visualization for Writers. I also have a host of related ebooks.
For more than a decade, I’ve focused my writing primarily on nonfiction writing and publishing, blogging, and becoming a successful author.
My New Decade Focus
Last year, a fellow author and friend who has known me since the beginning of my journey to authorship asked me, “Where did Nina go?” I realized I had totally lost my focus on and connection to the writer I set out to become. That was her point.
I was no longer aligned with that person…that writer. I had not become her…not by a long shot. In fact, I bore no resemblance to her at all.
In 2020 and throughout the new decade, I plan to realign with the writer I dreamed of becoming so many years ago. Therefore, I am going to turn my attention back toward spirituality and metaphysics as well as personal development.
I plan to have spirituality as the umbrella under which much of my writing falls going forward. And I want to feel aligned with that focus on many levels, not just with my writing. I also want to deepen my connection to my higher purpose—to make a positive and meaningful difference with my words.
The Writing Plan Flows Out of the Focus
So, for me, 2020 and the next decade are about alignment and connection with my spiritual nature and interest. My overriding focus will be on spirituality. I begin the first year of the decade intending to align with my spiritual practice, spiritual self, and spiritual writing.
What about my New Year and New Decade strategic writing plans? They flow directly out of my focus.
I will use my focus as the guide for everything I do in the next 1, 3, 5, and 10 years. Like a lighthouse, it will shine the way home.
I will query spiritual magazines or writing and general-interest magazines with spiritual article ideas. I will write more spiritually oriented posts on all my blogs—yes, even this one. And I will begin writing the spiritual books I set out to write long ago.
Now, it’s your turn to choose a focus for the new decade.
January Nonfiction Writer’s Challenge
To complete this month’s nonfiction writer’s challenge, determine your writing focus for the next decade. Then, choose a focus for 2020 that helps you increase that 10-year focus.
To do so, follow these steps:
- Decide what quality you want the decade to have, who you want to become in the next 10 years, or what goal you want to have achieved by 2019.
- Ask yourself why you chose it. Why is it important to you? What meaning does it hold? Why does this word describe the decade you want, and why do you desire that type of decade? What does the word have to do with the goals you have for the next 10 years?
- Assign that quality a word that accurately describes it. That is your word for the decade—and your focus for the next 10 years. (Yes…it’s possible, your word might change. But choose one with the intention to keep it.)
- Choose a word that describes your focus for the next 12 months. It should be a word that corresponds with your word for the new decade. This word for the year should help you create your decade word.
Live Into Your Words
Now put those words everywhere—in your planner, on Post-It Notes stuck on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, and computer, and in your phone as a reminder that pops up three times per day.
When you see the words, ask yourself if you are living into them. Visualize yourself living as, experiencing, having, becoming that word.
Focus on it—with your mind, but feel the word with your entire being. Use all your senses.
And as you plan your goals for the New Year and new decade, be sure they are aligned with those words. Will they help you create what those words describe?
If you can answer “yes,” you’re on the right path.
In a comment below, tell me what words you chose and why. And please share this post with any writer who would benefit from reading it.
Picture courtesy of Didgeman / Pixabay